GAA should reassess ticketing strategies and replay prices

By Peter McNamara

Days before the Munster SHC final of 2014, tickets, which were like gold-dust at the time, went on public sale via tickets.ie and through supermarkets such as SuperValu and Centra.

Cork and Limerick folk, in particular, will tell you the morning they went on sale was a borderline disaster from a supporters’ perspective.

The tickets.ie website*, overwhelmed by the numbers trying to login to acquire tickets, caved under the weight of expectation on more than one occasion both on the site itself and in a host of the supermarkets being used as conduits for buyers.

GAA should reassess ticketing strategies and replay prices

This, of course, meant, certainly in a number of those stores, that more supporters were satisfied than others as there were only a minor number of tickets available being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis in terms of their overall system.

*Correction: This article stated for a brief period that Ticketmaster was the affected site. That is not correct, and we are happy to correct that error.

Similarly, on Monday, the GAA ticket website crashed as the masses sought out their passes to the All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay on Saturday.

People queued early in the morning in the hope of getting their hands on tickets and you can rest assured a large amount of them were left disappointed, as were those that queued in vain online.

The question is, can these occurrences be considered satisfactory for people willing to pay up to €30 per stand ticket into Croke Park or, as the case was last year, Páirc Uí Chaoimh?

For instance, put yourself in the shoes of a mother or father at work and unable to leave to physically queue for tickets.

Their kid or kids are at school assuming, and not understanding how it all works (life, that is), that mammy or daddy will have tickets in the post in the next 48 hours or so because they have purchased them online.

He or she has been to the Dublin-Mayo drawn match, gripped by it all, has boasted to his or her friends about the experience in the school yard and is bubbling with excitement at the prospect of returning to Croker for the second instalment.

GAA should reassess ticketing strategies and replay prices

Then, though, mammy or daddy has to explain to said child or children that the site crashed and going to headquarters on Saturday is not an option.

And, let’s be honest, no parent likes to disappoint their kids in such a manner.

Yet, that is just one example.

There would, of course, be countless others.

Surely the Association expect such massive interests in the public sale of tickets for matches of this nature?

Therefore, could more be done to guard against the probability of sites wilting at the worst times?

If a higher number of tech-savvy individuals were on duty, would it help to alleviate the pressure being placed on the system?

Or do we have to hark back to the age-old argument of introducing an even more advanced loyalty set-up whereby those that have paid and been to a game that has ended in a draw are automatically entitled to first refusal on tickets for the replay, for instance?

A total of 10,000 tickets were sold to the public for this up-coming east-meets-west collision on Jones’ Road.

GAA should reassess ticketing strategies and replay prices

However, could it be arranged that a much higher percentage of tickets are made available in this way with those able to show their ticket stub from the initial encounter safe in the knowledge that they can secure a ticket again?

It might seem too simplistic to be realistic to some.

Nevertheless, if an individual has held on to their ticket from a drawn game and can present same at a kiosk, what exactly is fanciful about that?

Or, for Cork and Limerick supporters last year, those that present their semi-final tickets should be granted the opportunity to buy tickets for the decider ahead of the bandwagon jumpers, of which there are many for occasions whereby silverware should be handed out.

Even such a theory will not please everybody.

I am not deluded into thinking it is a flawless representation of what is required to improve the situation either.

Is it also possible that the numbers of tickets being distributed to clubs may be excessive?

Some would argue not, most in fact but, then again, playing Devil's advocate not everybody who has a deep-rooted grá for Gaelic games are directly associated with one.

At the end of the day, and in complete fairness to the GAA, there is no ‘fairest’ way of looking after everybody.

Still, surely even more advanced provisions can be put in place to enhance the chances of the every-day supporter being satisfied with the ticket situation as much as people within clubs tend to be.

Also, can the GAA really justify charging €30 for stand tickets and €20 for Hill 16 tickets given this Dublin-Mayo encounter is a boost to the Association’s finances that was not factored into calculations in the first place?

GAA should reassess ticketing strategies and replay prices

Would a cost of €20 for stand tickets and €10 for Hill 16 not have been much fairer prices?

Yes, the money goes back into grassroots and what not but even at ticket prices of €20 and €10 the GAA still make a welcome killing.

The Association does its best in difficult circumstances when it comes to looking after supporters and nobody is disputing that.

However, subtle changes could make a significant difference.

At the end of the day, and at the risk of sounding nauseatingly cliché, the GAA is an organisation of the people.

And those people deserve the best possible ticketing deals.

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